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Pointing, Warning and Winning

From his first pitch, which nailed Brett Gardner on the right leg and prompted some pointing (and possibly a warning, more on that later) from the home plate umpire Eric Cooper, Jeremy Bonderman exhibited the disposition of a dull teenager enduring the facts-of-life lecture from prattling parents. His annoyed expression and frequent shoulder shrugging suggested he wanted to anywhere else but on the hill at Yankee Stadium. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, he managed to stick around for five innings, seven runs and three homers. In fact, after he drilled Brett the Jet and let up back-to-back jacks (courtesy Teixeira and Cano) in the first, it crossed my mind that Bonderman just might rear back and fire one at Swisher’s melon to earn the automatic heave-ho and the warmth of an early shower. With times being tough all over, I guess the probable suspension was too much of a financial risk, and luckily for the Yanks, he stayed in the game.

As soundly as the Yankee hitters pounded Bonderman’s weak offerings, Dustin Moseley prevented the game from becoming a laugher. For awhile, he was holding the non-Cabrera portion of the lineup at bay, surrendering “only” two solo homers to Miggy through the first four innings. But when Don Kelly brought his .279 career slugging percentage to the plate in the fifth and deposited a hanging breaking ball a few feet over Austin Kearn’s outstretched glove for a two-run home run, the game took on an ominous, too-close-for-comfort feeling that persisted (for me anyway) until it was over.

The battle of the bullpens got interesting in the seventh when Boone Logan and Kerry Wood loaded the bases on three singles. With one out, Wood dug deep and produced big-time strikeouts of Santiago and Raburn. (Other than a few too many walks, Wood has had a really fine first nine innings for the Yankees) Then the Tigers tried to walk the same tight rope, but Austin Kearns played the bully and sent them spilling to the earth with a booming ground rule double to plate two runs and increase the Yankee lead to five.

Buoyed by their escape in the seventh, the Yankees wanted to test their limits in the eighth. Chad Gaudin loaded the bases by hitting Cabrera and walking Peralta on either side of Damon’s single. Why wasn’t Gaudin expelled after hitting Cabrera? Leyland wanted to know. He wanted to know so badly that he asked about 1000 times, with varying degrees of civility, between the plunking and the start of the next inning before finally getting run. Funny thing was, Leyland wanted Gaudin tossed, meanwhile Gaudin was busy bringing the tying run to the on-deck circle. Girardi did what Cooper would not. Enter David Robertson, who wriggled out of the tough jam with three straight outs and only one of the runners crossing the plate.

The Yankees took their turn failing to cash in loaded bases in the eighth, but the real story was new Tigers pitcher Enrique Gonzalez throwing intentionally at Jeter, and possibly Teixeira and Cano as well. He missed each of them however, and the home plate umpire declined to boot him rendering his first inning warning rather confusing and misleading.

Mariano Rivera pitched a spotless ninth in a game full of spots and the Yankees won a see-saw ride at the park 9-5. The way he has dominated in 2009 and 2010 with velocity rarely exceeding 92 mph on any pitch, I’m getting curious, how on earth did anyone ever hit the guy when he was regularly over 95? I wonder if there is anything to learn from his increased success with diminished velocity or if it’s all just a matter of small sample sizes and insignificant statistical differences.

Catching up with other individual players, Granderson had a chance to face a lefty in big moment, but accidentally left his new swing in the on-deck circle and went up hacking with the old one. He whiffed, but seriously, with another home run tonight, he has been hitting very well since the summit with Long. But he also took a few days off around that same time and maybe that cleared his head. Maybe that’s part of his resurgence as well. I mention this because I think Jeter could use a break. He’s 36 and playing every day, and tonight when seven Yankee starters had extra base hits, including Ramiro Pena, Jeter didn’t even take a good swing, let alone have a good at bat (I’m not counting the walk, where the pitcher was trying to hit him, in Derek’s favor). Arod’s injury forces Jeter onto the field, but I hope he gets a few days off in the near future to mentally recharge.

And with that, my streak of crushing losses has come to an end. Thanks, Yanks. Keep it up, the Sox and Rays are rolling.

Categories:  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa

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1 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Aug 19, 2010 12:31 am

[0] nice re-cap, weird game. wonder if the hijinks spill over into tomorrow, I hope Mr. Hughes can just make it a day at the office, no drama, 7IP. I'd like to see capn get a breather too, find his smile and all that. Great to see Granderson hit the ball.

And the Rays swept the Rangers - I didn't expect that.

2 jjmerlock   ~  Aug 19, 2010 11:07 am

Are you sure about Mo's velocity? Have we just been seeing readings from misleading TV guns?

Because this year, he's suddenly at 93, 94 in certain games, at least according to the telecasts. And among the endless list of things that is astounding about Mo, if those numbers are correct, the increase this year in velocity would be yet another thing to be amazed by.

3 jjmerlock   ~  Aug 19, 2010 11:23 am

[2] Looking at fangraphs, their charts seem to suggest that his cutter velocity is slightly up from last year, but the pitches they record as basic fastballs (no cutter, no two seam) clearly clock in at higher velocity readings. Which seems pretty wild.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 19, 2010 11:46 am

[3] Fangraphs has his avg cutter at 92.6 in '08, 91.3 in '09, and 91.1 in '10. So I'd say there is a distinct difference starting in 2009.

I also think it's safe to say that there was a time when it was much higher than 2008, though I don't know his exact averages or the exact time period.

5 jjmerlock   ~  Aug 19, 2010 7:28 pm

Hmm... you're right - I should have just looked at the season average velocities, and your numbers are, of course, correct. His straight fastball velocity is up from last year, but the overall trend is definitely less velocity on both the cutter and the plain old fastball.

I do think there may be something more there if you look closer - although it's hard to say, as those charts not only show the full range of the data sets, but then you're looking at both average velocities for individual outings, as well as velocity ranges for those outings. So, for me, at least, it's hard to know what exactly to make of the actual graphs just by eyeballing them. I know that one thing the charts remind you of is that he's had two outings this year where the fastball was right around 95 - and in one of those outings, the cutter was almost at 95, as well. I think I'm still shocked by those readings.

What I'm saying in a very convoluted way is that I can't tell from those graphs (just having averages and ranges shown together) is if the overall variance is markedly higher this year than last year and if he isn't hitting higher numbers more often this year, even if a summarizing stat like average doesn't show that. Is there a way to see something like "how many pitches has he thrown above 93 in year x," etc?

I'm sure you're right in your overall point; I'm just noting that averages - in any statistical analysis - only say so much.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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